Bastard (Regular & Limited Edition) (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, June 05, 2001
Release Date: Monday, June 04, 2001
What They Say
Dark Schneider is the "Bastard!"! A lone warlock, freed from years of imprisonment, stands against an army of destruction bent on world conquest and the resurrection of an ancient evil. But Dark Schneider is not protecting the desperate people of Meta-Rikana out of the goodness of his heart. After all, they were the ones who imprisoned him for leading this same army against their city the first time! However, he's not about to let his old army, his old generals, and his ex-girlfriend show him up. Besides, his new girlfriend is counting on him, and it's been awhile since he's had some fun... Contains all 6 episodes.
There's something special about a show simply named "Bastard!!". You just know it's going to appeal to a certain segment of the anime viewing audience as well as those outside of the anime audience. Pioneer's gone and made a nice edition here, as well as making something really unique for those who want the goodies. The discs themselves are the same between the regular and limited edition, but please note that we're reviewing the limited edition when it comes to the packaging.
For our primary review session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The shows closing in on being nine years old, so it's not terribly surprising that it's got a basic stereo mix. There's a decent amount of directionality throughout the six OVA's during the action sequences as well as a few choice moments during some of the smart aleck comments the characters make. The music makes out the best here with a solid feel to it. If anything, the English portion of the opening sequence was a bit low, but it's been like that in all versions, so it's not something that's anything more than a nitpick.
Overall this is a very nice looking transfer. The colors look very solid outside of a few dark skies, there's hardly any line noise and there's very little in the way of grain. There is a fair level of rainbows that creep through around the edges of the characters outlines that was a bit annoying, but it seemed to edge off slightly as the series progressed. If there's anything that's wrong with this transfer, its that it's done as the VHS releases were. The VHS was released on 3 tapes of 2 episodes each, with the ending cut from the first episode of each tape. We get the same here and with the ending song not being subtitled, it reminds us a lot of the way we felt about Battle Athletes Victory and the episode splicing that was done with that show.
The cover for the DVD has a great shot of Dark Schneider, hair whipping around and looking right out at you. It's fairly minimal in colors, but it's definitely eye-catching. The back cover has a good cast shot of several characters as well as a good summary of the show. Episode numbers and titles are listed, and amusingly the quote listed at the top comes from Dark Schneider himself. At least that's more reliable than a quote from David Manning.
The limited edition packaging was something I was really curious to see how they'd handle. The action figure is facing out backwards, while the DVD itself is encased in a half inch cardboard box that expands outward from the cover itself, showing more character artwork from the show itself. Highlight the cover art above to check out the cardboard expansion piece with the disc. Very nice, and something that makes me unsure if I'll toss that part or not.
The menus are nicely animated pieces, with selections that move into various areas of the overall image by zooming in when selected. The background image is the dark purple image of the castle with the selections being inside energy/magic spheres, which looks really great. Access time between the menus is pretty fast and everything went where it should. A very nicely laid out disc overall.
The disc extras are fairly minimal, with a small image gallery of original artwork and a few screen captures. There's also another small gallery that shows some images of the figure included with the limited edition and another figure that's coming out soon.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Bastard's the tale of Dark Schneider, most likely the most powerful sorcerer on the face of Earth in the time after the complete destruction of all civilization in our future. The tale starts fifteen years before the main story though, where we learn that Schneider had been on a mad raging war against anything that got in his way, destruction of kingdoms for the sheer pleasure of it. He devastated many kingdoms, but did not take them over and rule them. He simply left them in ruin.
Schneider ended up with many enemies of course, and many tried to kill him. Eventually he was sealed away by a powerful group of sorcerers and warriors. These people then took up the titles of Lords of Havoc and continued what Schneider began, but with the goal of ruling the entire world.
In the present day, the latest kingdom that's close to being attacked is Meta-Rikana. The high priest there has a plan to save the kingdom from the Lords. A plan that very few know about, and is tied to his teenage daughter Yoko and her young male friend Rushe. It's learned that Rushe is actually the container of the sealed Dark Schneider, and the kiss of a virgin girl combined with a spell will free him from his captivity. Though Yoko protests heavily, as the enemy gets closer inside the castle, she performs the spell and Dark Schneider is loosed upon the Earth once more.
Though he's not exactly the same Dark fellow he was before. Since he was combined with Rushe in one sense, he's absorbed some of Rushe's traits.... such as his love for Yoko. Of course, Dark Schneider is also quite the ladies man to begin with, so seeing him being hot to trot for the nubile hottie known as Yoko wasn't exactly a stretch. But his devotion to her via Rushe was something nobody expected, and is part of the charm of the show.
With Schneider back in action, he starts taking on the various enemies of varying powers, though reluctantly at times since he figures he has better things to do. But as his enemies are bound to do, they make things personal by going after Yoko herself.
The enemies are pretty typical, some are powerful, some are weak and easily killed. The first real one Schneider goes against is his old friend/foe Gara, the ninja master. Gara kidnaps Yoko and leaves her naked and tied up in his hideout with his hundreds of ninja followers. When Schneider shows up finally to take out Gara, Gara launches into a bit of history between the two of them and the usual narrative. True to form, and in what is a lot of my appeal for the show, Schneider doesn't bother to listen and simply starts kicking Gara's ass.
The other enemies vary, though the wrestler-looking vampire enemy was actually a lot of fun, and provided some good and humorous scenes with the female characters and in the way Schneider went after him. Vampirism always provides some entertainment!
One of the other charms of this show is in what the various kingdoms and spells are named. Not that you can tell by Pioneer's subtitled version (and presumably by the dub). The main kingdom we deal with, Meta-Rikana, is actually supposed to be Metallicana. There's the kingdoms of Judas, Iron Maiden and others as well. The big badass spell of Megadeath is changed to Mega D'su and there's a Slayer and Stryper spell or two in there as well. Hell, there's a knight captain named Bon Jovina.
Why the changes? Well, most people are guessing the litigious nature of the entertainment industry these days and frankly I'm not surprised that it was done. I also don't find it to be all that bad either, especially when you consider that a good portion of people watching this for the first time won't even know who most of these bands even are. I mean, most of them are groups that have zero mainstream popularity these days outside of Metallica. How many 16 year olds are going to know who Whitesnake is? Or Slayer? Or Stryper? Heck, I don't want to remember these bands myself! If anything, at least the original dialogue is in there, and the fans who know about the in-jokes aren't really denied them at all, since they're there.
Since we opted for the limited edition package, it's definitely worth commenting on the figure itself. I'm not a hardcore action figure junkie, though I certainly have plenty of domestic and import anime figures. This version is apparently a specially made one by Kotobukiya with a variant color scheme just for the DVD release of this show. The packaging is the good big oversized version with great looking artwork and some great looking picture poses on the back. The figure itself looks very detailed, though I'm unsure if I'll actually take this one out of its package to play with. This is definitely something I hope to see more of from the domestic anime companies in the future, especially in providing both versions so those who don't want the figure don't have to pay the premium. It's one step closer to how great the Japanese releases are.
Bastard's not high sorcery or high art or high fantasy. What it is though is a really fun show with exciting characters and lots of in-jokes. It's not going to remake your views on anything, but it is going to provide nearly three hours of solid entertainment. Outside of a few very minor issues, this is a great release and one I'm really glad that Pioneer has finally gotten to the market. Very recommended.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Action Figure Image Gallery,Limited Edition contains a special Dark Schneider Action Figure
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: A-/
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 180
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2